One of the most disempowering things to come out of my mouth was: “He left me.”
How many times have we said this about someone in our life?
“He left me. She left me. He left us. They left us. F*ck them…selfish assholes for just picking up and taking off and leaving me here to rot.”
Not very empowering is it?
It’s not like I’m just having this epiphany now, and finally understanding the power of my own words. I understand this on a basic level. But when someone I used to worked with said to me in a moment of anger, “You left me here. And nobody cares,” I really got it. This person’s disappointment, anger, and frustration at me for making the choice to leave my job is almost palpable.
But I didn’t leave this person. I just left.
I left for me—for my own career growth, my own priorities, and to take care of myself, which, at the end of the day, is what all of us should be doing: self-care. Doing what feels right for us. It wasn’t personal.
And unfortunately, that may hurt other people because they will feel abandoned.
While there are other more extreme circumstances than walking away from jobs, friendships, or relationships, I’m focusing on relationships because this is where I feel most of us give our personal power away.
The language we use to describe situations is what gives them power. When we say things like, “Well you just got up and left me with this mess.” Or, “You don’t care about me at all. You left me here to fend for myself at this crappy job,” that’s personalizing things and that’s giving all of our power to the other person.
What we’re saying is, “I don’t have the choice or the power to make things better for myself. That’s on you.”
Nope—it’s not. It’s on us.
Some people reading this may think this sounds insensitive and unsympathetic. It’s not, and I’m not. I’ve been left in many situations. In relationships, in friendships, at jobs…you name it. I’ve felt abandoned just like everybody else. There’s nothing that makes me exempt from being human and going though the same things everyone does.
And like most of us, I’ve felt sorry for myself. I’ve blamed those who’ve left for their selfish abandonment of me. I pointed my little self-righteous finger at them and cried about how hard my life is. And you know where that got me?
What got me somewhere was turning that little self-righteous finger back on myself and asking the question, “What can I do to get the support I need right now? Because this is tough, and it hurts. And it’s okay to feel hurt, but I have some choices here.”
Our language and how we talk about a situation has so much power. Energetically, what we focus on magnifies. If we put all of our energy into those feelings of abandonment, being a victim, and feeling as if the world is against us—that nobody wants to help and we’re all alone—this is exactly what we’ll draw in.
So, change your thinking and change how you talk about the situation. Some examples:
“Some of my team members decided to leave the company and it’s really put a lot of pressure on me. I’m going to ask my boss for more help so I can do my job. If I can’t get it, maybe it’s time for me to leave, myself.”
“My wife left the marriage (not me). I’m devastated and don’t understand it and I just need some support right now.”
“My friend stopped talking to me after 15 years of being friends. Clearly she’s going through something and I feel really hurt. But I’m glad I have other friends like you to talk about this with.”
When we do this, we put the focus on us and what we need to get through it, rather than the other person and how their actions are destroying us. We’re taking responsibility for our own life and empowering ourselves by asking for what we need to make the situation just a little better.
And you know what? Sometimes, it doesn’t get better for a while—I’m not gonna lie. But we take it one day at a time. The days I chose to focus on what I could do to get through the hardship were, by far, the better days. They were the days I felt like the strong, powerful, badass woman I am.
The days I chose to focus on someone “leaving me” and being a victim? These were not so good.
People leave. It’s a part of life. But remember, they leave because of themselves. They leave because they also have a choice to pursue their own happiness and what they feel is right for them and their lives. It’s rarely about us. So let’s not make it about us. The only part we can own is taking the opportunity to turn their leaving into something better.
And sometimes, that’s why life gives us the opportunity at all.
The Grown-Up Way to Leave a Relationship.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis
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